THE DONEGAL UNDER-21 MANAGER Declan Bonner has a litany of injury concerns ahead of the start of the EirGrid Ulster Under-21 Championship.
On Wednesday-week, Donegal face Derry or Antrim, but their preparation has been disrupted severely with a host of players either out or in a race against time to be fit.
Key forwards Darach O’Connor, Rory Carr and Lorcan Connor as well as defender Tony McClenaghan are definitely out.
O’Connor is sidelined with a cruciate injury that will keep him out until June while Carr dislocated a shoulder playing for St Eunan’s in the Ulster Minor Club Tournament and is a number of weeks away from a return.
Connor has a torn hamstring while a virus will prevent McClenaghan from taking part.
Ciaran Thompson has returned to action again having missed last weekend’s Allianz League game against Mayo owing to knee problem and will feature, but Bonner has several players on his panel over whom there are serious concerns.
Defenders Jack O’Brien (groin) and Kieran Gillespie (hamstring) are now rated as ‘very doubtful’ while Conor Doherty (groin), John McDyre (quad) and Niall Friel (knee) are all receiving treatment at the moment and Jamie Brennan has only just returned from a lengthy lay-off.
“It has been far from ideal,” Bonner told Donegal Sport Hub.
“It has been frustrating. I knew that the Under-21s would be difficult logistically – we have eight in Dublin, five in Galway and players also based in Belfast, Dundalk and Athlone – but it has been harder than I thought.
“We just don’t know what sort of a squad we’ll have at this stage and we’re looking like we’re going to be patched up, but we’ll prepare as best we can and we already have a few matches under our belt.”
Second-half goals by Adam Neely, Caolan McGonigle and Eamonn McGrath gave Donegal a 3-12 to 0-6 win over Sligo on Wednesday night in the final of the North-West Under-21 Cup.
On March 16, they will face the winners of this Wednesday’s game between Derry and Antrim.